Any organization/brand is faced with an almost unlimited selection of choices and opportunities in the marketplace. For example, there are literally thousands of different ways that firms can choose to promote their activities. There are millions of different products available in the marketplace that firms can choose to produce and market.
So how does a firm/brand choose which is the best options for its competitive market success? The answer is through the development of an appropriate marketing strategy.
The goal of marketing strategy is to consider the best top level approach to acquiring and retaining profitable customers in the marketplace. It is often referred to as the firm’s “game plan”. In other words, how are we going to be successful in the marketplace against competitors?
Marketing strategy is often built around the elements of existing corporate/brand strengths, customer needs, competitive offerings, and changing/emerging environmental issues/trends. The firm endeavors to find the best approach considering all of these factors.
If the firm/brand is able to generate a clear marketing strategy – then the unlimited choices, as described above, become much clearer in the implementation of the marketing program becomes more apparent and even more obvious.
An example for a fast food chain
Let’s assume there is a fast food chain that does not have a clear market strategy and are just looking to grow their business. In this case, every opportunity and consideration looks attractive. Should we offer a broad range of foods such as hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs and even sushi? How do we design our stores? What type of staff should we hire and how do we want them to interact with customers?
Without a clear marketing strategy, this fast food chain cannot really answer any of those questions with certainty. As a result, this business would be to look at each question/decision on individual basis. Long term approach of this would be a very inconsistent offering and positioning in the marketplace – leading to reduced competitive success.
A more structured approach
If this fast food chain had a clear competitive strategy these above questions become very straightforward. For example, let’s assume that they structured their marketing strategy as something like “a specialist hamburger chain, offering make your own hamburger options, in a fun and lively atmosphere with energetic staff”.
This strategy statement would quickly answer those above questions – such as, “Which foods should we have?” The clear and obvious answer would be “a broad range of flexible hamburgers only”.
Linking between marketing strategy and tactics
Once a very clear marketing strategy has been put in place, then the marketing mix elements become easier to define and design. The challenge for the firm and becomes the execution and implementation of the overall marketing mix elements – not continuous choices about which opportunities should be pursued?